HMS Ocean, amphibious assault ship and flagship of the Royal Navy has reportedly been sold to Brazil for £84.3million. HMS Ocean is the last British warship capable of launching aircraft. The Ocean carries 18 helicopters. Britain has lacked the capacity to launch and land fixed wing aircraft since 2016 when it scrapped its last aircraft carrier, HMS Illustrious. The Royal Navy’s new flagship, the aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is not expected to be fully operational until 2020.
Experts fear the sale will severely limit Britain’s ability to conduct military operations. Even once the HMS Queen Elizabeth is operational it will not have the amphibious assault and helicopter capabilities of HMS Ocean. Other critics point out that four years ago, HMS Ocean underwent a refit costing £65 million in which the flight deck, hangar, and aviation facilities were refurbished along with the hull and propellers. Communications and weapons systems were upgraded.
Royal Navy sources say that the proceeds of the sale of HMS Ocean will be used to help fill a £20 billion budget gap.